Mar 29, 2018 - Sale 2471

Sale 2471 - Lot 339

Price Realized: $ 6,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,000 - $ 1,500
(RECONSTRUCTION.) McDaniel, Daniel. Letter to a freedman, offering to help track down his lost wife and daughter. Autograph Letter Signed to "Aprill Angel Esquire." 4 pages, 9 3/4 x 7 3/4 inches, on 2 sheets; worn with partial separations at folds, short tape repairs, generally legible with minimal loss of text. Ville Platte, LA, 13 May 1872

Additional Details

The author of this letter, Daniel McDaniel (1811-1876), was a white man from central Louisiana; according to the 1850 census he had been a trader rather than a planter before the war, and the spelling in his letter suggests a minimal level of education. This letter was written to Aprill Angel, who had been sold as a slave from South Carolina to a neighboring Louisiana plantation circa 1843. Apparently, Angel had gone to South Carolina in an effort to find his wife and daughter, who had been sold to another owner shortly before the war. In this quite unusual letter, McDaniel appears to be a friend of Angel's, offering character testimonials, neighborhood news from Saint Landry, and advice on tracking the missing kin.
McDaniel starts off the letter with effusive praise: "Aprill Angel . . . is as good free man, work in industrious truthful peace, & able and honest good citizen. I have nown him thirty years & think he can prove as good caracter as anney free man in Lousianna." He describes Angel's former master Louis Lucas LaRose Fontenot (1817-1876) of Saint Landry parish as a near neighbor, recalling that "when his old master wood goe off hunting cattle in the cane, he wood be gone week or two weeks, and left Aprill Angel at home, everrything wood be attended to." McDaniel then recalls his previous efforts to connect Angel with his extended family in South Carolina: "Recolect you wer last thirty years from your people. I found your people by riting one single letter for you. Well, Aprill Angel, I advize you to stay with your people and thank the lord for his kind merceys. . . . How you like old South Carolina, your native soil. . . . When you went back, you did not no the place you was born, or anney person in old South Carolina." He passes on news and greetings from numerous neighbors, black and white (including Angel's former master). He concludes "I am sorry your wife left a few years before freedom, and you no not wher she went and your daughter also. Well, send me your wife and daughter right name and the master that bought them, if he went south or west. I will trie and find out wher they are if posible." We have been unable to track Aprill Angel in the historical record, but the friendship expressed toward the freedman in this letter seems deep and sincere.